This last First Friday at the art walk on Santa Fe in Denver, I decided to not put a monetary value on any of my work, neither the paintings, the tie dyes, stash bags, or water bottle holders. I have always been told I price my work too cheap, but charging anymore that a few hundred dollars for a medium sized painting has always seemed wrong to me. You could argue that I don’t sell because I price it too cheap, but I am not after becoming rich and famous by being an artist, nor do I think that if they are priced cheaper I will sell more. I am not after a rich art collector to buy my work, though if one happens to want to buy a piece, I am more that happy to sell.
On each tag I had “What would you haggle, barter, or trade for this?” I had many interesting responses, from people just interested as to why I did it, to people being taken in by a painting, noticing the “price,” and wanting to know more. I also had a list of items that I need so that if they did want a painting, that could give them a place to start. For example, I had two people who were interested in a painting and they mentioned that they gardened and were musicians. I said that I would be very willing to trade my work for home jarred foods (it was on the list) or even a song even though my other half and I garden and he is a musician as well. Others wanted a monetary value, which I gave them, nothing too expensive, from a very small painting at about $30 to $40 to Dreamscapes: Awakening at $250.
The whole idea was to generate conversation about our current financial and cultural system, to get people to bring their feelings about it to the surface because they realized that there are other people out there who feel the same as they do and wish to change it. I had an interesting conversation with an artist named Santiago, who will be showing next First Friday at Su Teatro. He asked why I decided to haggle, barter or trade and I told him that I was tired of our current political, financial, and cultural paradigm and wanted a way to circumvent that. We even talked about going as far as just dropping everything, packing a backpack and leaving the whole thing behind (which I am very close to doing), which he had mentioned he had done
I realized that the way the current established art world(and not just the “art world”, but our current System) works is a world that I did not really want to be a part of, as it seems very separate from reality (art for artists or art about art), almost existing in a vacuum or the Ivory Towers of Philosophy and Theory instead of a direct link to humanity.
Alas, no one took home a painting with them on First Friday, except for Wynne Reynolds (I rented the wall from her and she is a business partner), with whom I traded a small oil painting
for a charcoal drawing of hers.
And last year (or was it the year before last) we traded two paintings, a Buddha of hers
for The Quest for Knowledge from me.